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Herbal hike Fohramoos (c) Anja Fontain / Vorarlberg Tourismus

Lust for life meets feeling for nature

Katharina Moosbrugger shows you the wonderful and hidden places on the Bödele through the forest and across meadows

Vorarlberg Magazine
Lust for life meets feeling for nature

Lust for life meets feeling for nature

Katharina Moosbruger

A rolling stone gathers no moss: why this special green delights the soul. And why the ‘Fohramoos’ attracts fans of walking barefoot and the world of herbs. A nature reserve with a difference. Experiencing nature – with Katharina Moosbrugger taking the lead and in pursuit of the Bödele, between Dornbirn and the Bregenzerwald.


The thing that Katharina Moosbrugger always wanted to do was to get away from home – to dash out into the big, wide world.  To travel, to learn about other cultures, and herself. To embrace life, bathe in its beauty – sate her desire for discovery and adventure. Everything all at once, preferably right now, now or never, all or nothing. And, yes, she did it! By the age of 30, this lively woman from the Bregenzerwald had done what many people dream of: she had moved – not just across the garden fence but across the globe. So much so that she probably would never have thought back then, when she was young and wild at heart, that, in the end, she’d be sinking her feet not into white sands but into the green ‘Fohramoos’. However, when she listens closely to herself, really listens to what’s going on inside and does so very very closely, it becomes clear that it was precisely there, right there in the ‘Fohramoos’ region, that, even as a child, she’d already felt perfectly at home. She grew up just around the corner, at Berghof Fetz above Dornbirn, where nature, meadows, forests and herbs were her constant companions. “Although, as a teenager, I found all of that really boring and unspectacular,” she laughs.

I’m aware of the incredibly positive effect that nature has on us humans from my own experience.

Today, after her long journey, Katharina Moosbrugger has grown up. She has arrived – back at the starting point, at home, at the centre of her own very personal universe: back in the ‘Fohramoos’ – in a world within another. The landscape of this particular upland moor can do many things – but most of all it can strengthen. What does that mean exactly? Well, it makes you strong – both body and mind. It brings it back – strength and awareness. And it makes your heart skip – it leaps the more aware of nature’s quiet violence you become.

The fact that it is precisely here that she finds herself again is not coincidence but an idea. Specifically one of Katharina Moosbrugger’s. “I started training as a herbalist after I returned to Vorarlberg years ago. That was when I rediscovered my passion for nature and herbs. I’ve always been close to nature ever since I was a child, particularly as I had the ‘Fohramoos’ nature reserve right on my front doorstep. I then decided to turn my great passion into my profession and put the knowledge about the various medicinal herbs and the healthy forest that I had gained from my courses and training to good use.”

Because it’s a world that enchants. Because the forest strengthens our immune system. Because energy and emotion happen at the same level. And because understanding, marvelling at, sensing and feeling things are possible – so tangibly and genuinely.

Katharina Moosbrugger

Katharina Moosbrugger explains the difference between pine cones and fir cones

Mini spruce

Katharina Moosbrugger has arrived

But why do gnarled birch trees, low mountain pine forests, endless green and sometimes brown moss, carnivorous plants and such extreme landscapes as the one that the Fohramoos presents cast such a spell on us humans? “Because it’s a world that enchants. Because the forest strengthens our immune system. Because energy and emotion happen at the same level. And because understanding, marvelling at, sensing and feeling things are possible – so tangibly and genuinely.” And that’s good.

That’s why we’re going to set off now. With good shoes, in a small group and with our rain gear at the ready in spite of the sunshine. Because you never know. And, as we approach the vicinity of the realms of the ‘Fohramoos’ with Katharina, cautiously and almost reverently striding through strange but somehow familiar nature, it becomes clear to us that someone has not only created something but also brought something into being: moor pools, moss cushions and dwarf shrubs. Peat, downy birch and mountain pine. And within it all: us. Now barefoot. To feel the ground, the moss. To feel ourselves. Without anything in between. Only us, the moss and then the soil underfoot.

Experience nature barefoot

Round-leaved sundew

We should allow ourselves to be unavailable much more often. Spending time in nature is the new luxury in today’s world.

Eyes open! Incredible, unreal and somehow surreal – 55 hectares of pure nature stretch out before us – untouched and appearing as it did hundreds of years ago. It becomes clear that only what is skilled in survival is able to defy such extreme conditions. And yet there’s something peaceful about this environment. And abundant, though at the same time somehow sparse. A mix, a spectacle that seeks its equal. So it’s great that Katharina Moosbrugger finds it regularly and throughout the seasons. Not only as a trained hiking guide but also as an expert in herbs. Be it hiking through the moors, hiking for herbs, hiking to enjoy the sunrise, hiking on snowshoes or even hiking on such themed trips as the ‘Five Senses Hike’, kids hike or herbal hike and four-legged-friend hike: this woman and the ‘Fohramoos’ are a well-oiled team that you can walk out into the wilds with.

Discovery through the forest and across meadows

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The region


Popular with skiing and hiking enthusiasts, Bregenzerwald is the place for those who appreciate the finer things of life. It’s famed for the surprising juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary architecture, innovative handicraft and the KäseStrasse. Exceptional: the Werkraumhaus in Andelsbuch. International: the Schubertiade Festival in Schwarzenberg.

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